America's Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) doesn't want our military technology to fall into enemy hands, where it could be studied, reverse engineered, and possibly used against us. That's why the Pentagon's research arm is investing significant resources into developing battlefield electronics that, literally, disintegrate on command.
Above is a small piece of hardware that's part of a program called VAPR, or Vanishing Programmable Resources. Essentially, it's a thin sheet of programmable silicon, magnesium, and silk that dissolves when liquid is introduced. Imagine littering a battlefield with VAPR sensors to collect intel on the enemy. Once our soldiers complete their objective, a button is pressed, liquid is introduced, and hundreds of sensors quietly vanish in the blink of an eye. While self-destructing technology is nothing new, these electronics don't leave any blown-up parts behind to collect. Researchers even imagine implanting them in our soldiers' bodies to monitor their health remotely.
Next month, DARPA is inviting a who's who of scientists and manufacturers interested in the technology to brainstorm ideas for how to effectively utilize it. "Forget about a kill switch," says Spencer Ackerman at Wired. "Welcome to the age of suicidal sensors." (Via Wired)
THE WEEK'S AUDIOPHILE PODCASTS: LISTEN SMARTER
- China's leader is telling the People's Liberation Army to prepare for war
- How I lost all my money
- The best books we read in 2014
- How to save money: 12 great personal finance tips
- Why Pakistan won't hunt down the terrorists within its borders
- The religious right isn't retreating — it's reforming
- How academia's liberal bias is killing social science
- Diagnosing the Home Alone burglars' injuries: A professional weighs in
- How to be the most productive person in your office — and still get home by 5:30 p.m.
- How to wrap a present with mathematical precision (and waste less paper)
Subscribe to the Week